Saturday, July 22, 2006

Kyushu - Nagasaki and Kumamoto

I want to finish talking about my trip to Kyushu with my parents. I really enjoyed Kyushu and would love to go back to explore the southern half of the island someday.

Kyushu Day 3
It was pouring rain all day in Nagasaki. It was the perfect museum day. We went to the Nagasaki Peace Museum and Victims Memorial. Nagasaki was the second place the US bombed after Hiroshima. It's estimated that 73,000 people died in the first seconds and the number rose to 140,000 by 1950. From Japan Rough Guide: An American naval officer visiting the city a few weeks later described his awe at the "deadness, the absolute essence of death in the sense of finality without resurrection. It's everywhere and nothing has escaped its touch." But the city, at least, did rise again to take its place with Hiroshima as a center for anti-nuculear protest and an ardent campaign for world peace.

This is the hall of rememberance where books with the names of the victims are kept.

A school group delivering origami cranes.

Many people have heard about how nice people are in Japan and have told many stories about the kindness of strangers. This is nothing new, but it really illustrates how wonderful it is to live here. It was pouring rain and we only had one umbrella. As we were walking towards the Peace Museum a woman and her friends, started talking to us and let us walk with them under their umbrellas. She said she lived really close to the museum, and before I knew what was happening, she handed me her umbrella and said she lived nearby and that I could have it, then she ran off to her home. About 1 hour later, she found me in the museum and said that she was worried about all of us and handed me a bag with 3 umbrellas and 2 rain jackets and once again she left us with our jaws open. She not only got us rain gear but she wandered through the museum to locate us and give us this stuff. It was really amazing and kind. I only hope that someday I can do the same for someone else.

We wanted to visit some of the Dutch sites, which were mostly outdoors, but with the torrential rain we decided to get more ramen in China Town. Nagasaki is famous for their champon ramen, a creamy broth with lots of seafood and meat. The Chinese restaurant we found was fantastic!

After lunch we headed to Kumamoto. We arrived that evening. Our hotel was located in the middle of the entertainment district. We went to a small, local isakaya (restaurant) and had yummy sashimi (raw fish) and chahan (fried rice). My parents went back to the hotel and Julian and I wandered the streets of Kumamoto and ended up at a little bar near our hotel.

Day 4
Kumamoto is famous for their castle and gardens. We skipped the castle and went to a nearby samurai house. Afterwards we went to a famous garden.

That afternoon we headed to Aso. A gorgeous train ride into the beautiful country side. Aso is famous for their active volcano and onsens. When we got off the train, we were in the middle of nowhere. It was beautiful!

The owner from the minshuku (family owned boarding house) picked us up at the station and drove us to her home. The place was really big but bare, it took care of our basic needs (a place to sleep and wash).

That evening we walked down a quiet and dark country road past many farms and houses and made our way to a small restaurant. We had yet another bowl of ramen!

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